Late today the FAA issued two notams allowing pilots operating at towered airports in the Washington, D.C., and New York City air defense identification zones (ADIZs) to fly in the traffic pattern without filing a flight plan. All pilots will use transponder code 1234 for closed traffic pattern operations. The notams were based on the successful tests of an AOPA suggestion to use one squawk code for pattern operations. The new procedure goes into effect on Friday, April 11, 2003, at 0600 local and will remain in effect until further notice.
"This provides some relief, particularly for flight training operations, but it doesn't go far enough," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs. "On busy weekends, ATC still runs out of transponder codes, causing unnecessary delays and inconvenience for pilots."
AOPA and the FAA had hoped to permit use of the 1234 code at both towered and nontowered airports in the ADIZ areas, but the Department of Defense and U.S. Customs Service, which are responsible for patrolling the areas, balked at the idea of operations at nontowered airports.
Under the new notams, closed pattern operations at towered airports within the ADIZ will not require a flight plan. Pilots will make their request for closed pattern work prior to taxiing and will squawk 1234 continuously.
Pilots are reminded that prior to exiting the traffic pattern and conducting other flight operations within the ADIZ, a flight plan must be filed with an AFSS, pilots must obtain and continuously transmit an ATC-assigned discrete transponder code, and two-way communications must be established prior to ADIZ penetration. See AOPA's checklist for ADIZ operations for additional ADIZ information.